Thursday, January 24, 2008

COM: The Arcadia project evolving . . . again

Study to be done on Arcadia costs
By Jeff Wright, The Daily Times, Published January 24, 2008

The Kerrville City Council on Tuesday authorized the city to spend as much as $15,000 on a feasibility study to analyze the cost of operating the Arcadia Theatre as an open-air facility, as proposed by the Cailloux Foundation.

The decision was made following a report from city manager Paul Hofmann, whom council had directed to meet with foundation representatives about restoring the historic theater at no cost to the city.

Hofmann said the foundation is “at least a year away” from having enough funds to restore the theater. The foundation suggested the city use the $286,000 in its Arcadia Theater account (hotel/motel funds) to begin the first phase of the renovation — the theater’s facade.

Councilman Scott Gross said the facade work would not be “a piece of cake” and that “double” the funds in the theater account might be needed to complete the work.

Councilman Todd Bock suggested the feasibility study, saying the city needs to know the operational cost of a remodeled, open-air theater.

The council agreed to hire VenuTech to conduct the study. The city in 2006 hired the company to produce a business plan to develop the Arcadia Theater. But it focused on a four-walled building.

Hofmann said the amphitheater concept “warrants analysis.”

The council wants a quick turn-around time on the study. “As soon as possible,” mayor Gene Smith said.

He reiterated his displeasure with the “open-air” concept, saying it’s “stupid” because it compromises the theater’s acoustics.

“I hate to go against the Cailloux, but the suggestion is not feasible,” said the mayor.

He was against any theater account money going toward the amphitheater.

Gross, who initiated the partnership with the foundation, said, “those people are not going to put up junk. I think we’re in great hands.”

Hofmann said the foundation was “very receptive” to the idea of renovating the theater. But it thought the operator of the facility shouldn’t be limited to a non-profit organization, as the council had suggested.

Gross said he was “OK” with the notion of a for-profit or non-profit operating group.

Kerrville resident Carolyn Lipscomb pointed out that droppings from blackbirds in the area of the Arcadia Theatre could be a problem if the open-air theater isn’t “screened.” She said the feasibility study should examine “the cost of cleaning.”

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